These priests -- and countless others -- have dedicated their lives to the service of fellow Catholics like us. Now it's our turn to celebrate and support them.
In the summer of 2020, both our mothers passed away within a day of each other. Along with grieving these losses, we were faced with planning two funeral Masses at once, all during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and the logistical restrictions that came with it. While many put off funeral Mass arrangements during this time, we knew that wasn't an option for us and our departed mothers, who lived very faith-filled lives. We looked to Father John Kelly at our parish, St. Joseph in Holbrook, for guidance in navigating this yet-uncharted territory. He was a huge pillar of support in working with us to honor and celebrate the lives of our mothers at the time of their passing while also keeping everyone safe.
This is just one example of the tremendous impact of so many really outstanding priests whom we've been fortunate enough to know over the course of our lives. We both grew up in families for whom the Church was the center of what we did. Since we married and started our own family, we've carried on with the Church as the focus and at the heart of how we live. The Church is where we've generated our friends and our four kids' friends, and has been fundamental to how our children have grown and the people they've become as they've gone on to raise their own families.
Through and through, the priests have been at the core, giving us strong counsel and consolation when we've had challenges, such as sicknesses, and they've also brought humor, joy, and laughter into our home. Quite honestly, they have become extensions of our family. We can recall dinners at our house with Father Joe Raeke and Father Lou Palmieri and our kids asking, "How did you decide to become a priest?" Through these close encounters, it was heartwarming to see this kind of personal connection and friendship with them grow for our kids.
These priests -- and countless others -- have dedicated their lives to the service of fellow Catholics like us. Now it's our turn to celebrate and support them. Clergy Trust, which provides programs and resources to ensure the health and well-being of our priests in good standing, represents one way we are able to give back. We are so very honored to have been asked to co-chair this year's annual September fundraising effort, which along with the special collection next weekend, helps fund Clergy Trust.
Through three main programs, Clergy Trust delivers on its promise to care for our priests. The Intentional Living Program provides preventative health and wellness programs for the more than 300 active and almost 200 senior priests of the archdiocese; a dedicated care team offers one-to-one support to priests as they navigate the healthcare system; and the Regina Cleri Residence provides a fraternal community and care for senior priests.
By supporting Clergy Trust, we're saying thank you to the priests for all they've done over the years. Being a priest is a seven-day-a-week ministry. They've been doing that since they were ordained. We need to make sure we remember that and give back to take care of them as they've taken care of us.
If we think back on our own years in our parishes and our interactions with various priests over time -- from our own childhoods to young adulthood to married life and then raising a family -- each of the interactions has been tremendous and a part of how we've grown our faith and our lives. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a family, and, for us, priests have been such an integral part of that village. We look to our priests to keep us afloat spiritually but need to keep them afloat physically and healthwise. It's important and incumbent upon us as Catholics to provide this support for them just as they've taken care of us.
BRIAN AND ELLEN WALSH ARE CO-CHAIRS OF GIVE THANKS FOR PRIESTS 2022.
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